What motivates people?

I’ve been thinking about efficiency and productivity lately and wondering how those things can be improved within the context of a “really cool place to work.”

It’s often thought that cash is the best way to motivate people (think Wall Street). But research proves that when tasks involve higher-level technical thinking or creativity, cold hard cash actually ceases to provide the best motivation. You’ll also hear that creative people are motivated better by the opportunity to “be creative” (think starving artist). But research proves that it’s more than just that opportunity that offers the best results.

Maximum motivation to perform at a high technical or creative level requires three things:

  • Autonomy—Stop the micro managing already!
  • Mastery—Give people the resources needed to become really good at what they do.
  • Purpose—This is the tough one, but roughly it means allow people to feel that they are making a difference.

It’s important to note that these motivators don’t kick in until after a minimum level of financial incentive is supplied, so this research isn’t a green light for underpaying yet over expecting.

This video does a darn impressive job of explaining this recent research into motivation. Plus it’s really cool to watch.

I can only assume it was the result of a workplace that offered the creators autonomy, the opportunity to master their craft and the feeling that they can make a difference!